The first qualifier between the Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals started with MS Dhoni’s surprising call to leave out CSK Vice-Captain Suresh Raina and play Robin Uthappa instead. This did not go down with the fans who were shocked with many pointing out at Raina’s impeccable record of most runs in IPL playoffs. However, this dejection did not last long with Raina’s replacement Uthappa playing a dream knock for the three-time champions. The right-hand played a quick and composed knock of 63 from 44 balls helping CSK to win the game by 4 wickets.
The Karnataka batter has also been a two-time IPL champion with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and 2014 under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir had a few good words for his former opening partner after the match, in a chat on Cricinfo.
Gambhir also praised Dhoni for his decision to back Robin over Raina despite the top-order batter’s ordinary performances in the last few games he played.“You have to give credit to Dhoni that he continued with Robin. He could have easily been tempted to go for Raina. When you persist with a player, he will eventually come good if he has the ability, and Robin has the ability,” iterated Gambhir.
Gambhir also stressed at the important decision of the former India captain of sending Uthappa at 3. The Delhi Southpaw talked about how Uthappa likes batting at 3 and acknowledged the significance of Dhoni recognizing it.
Alongside Uthappa, Dhoni too turned back the clock with his match-winning finish against the Rishabh Pant-led Delhi Capitals. Dhoni scored a quick-fire 18 off 6 balls with 12 runs in the final over to see his team through to the final on October 15.